HomeNewsEntertainmentHayley Atwell takes pride in her "Mission: Impossible" bruises: 'My battle scars...

Hayley Atwell takes pride in her “Mission: Impossible” bruises: ‘My battle scars are proof of my journey!’

Before beginning her role as Grace, a professional thief, in the recently released “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” Hayley Atwell dedicated five months to training with stunt coordinator Wade Eastwood and his fitness trainer wife, Sam.

“The bruises I would occasionally get were minor, but I felt a sense of pride in them,” says Hayley Atwell, the 41-year-old British actress, who spoke with Entertainment Weekly on Wednesday before the SAG strike. “I would think, ‘These are proof of my battle scars!”

Hayley Atwell reveals that she not only engaged in a rigorous exercise program to prepare for her role in the seventh Mission: Impossible film, where Tom Cruise reprises his role as super spy Ethan Hunt, but she also adopted a sugar-free diet that she describes as life-changing.

“It transformed my body in terms of energy, mental clarity, and overall well-being,”Hayley Atwell expresses. “Living a highly healthy lifestyle, focusing on nutrition, rest, recovery, injury prevention, and mobility, had profound effects on me.” She continues, “The first time I consumed sugar again, I experienced a sugar hangover the next day and felt terrible.” As for a hypothetical encounter with a miniature Tom Cruise on her shoulder, playfully admonishing her with a “Told you,” Hayley Atwell doesn’t mention it.

Hayley Atwell’s Role in “Mission: Impossible” and Physical Dedication

Hayley Atwell
Hayley Atwell

In the film, Tom Cruise’s character, Hunt, forms an initially uneasy alliance with Hayley Atwell’s character as they join forces to combat “the Entity,” a powerful artificial intelligence with ambitions of world domination. Hayley Atwell’s performance in the movie has garnered high praise, with Entertainment Weekly’s Maureen Lee Lenker referring to her as “the real standout among the cast.” However, the opportunity to act alongside Cruise has been a long time in the making. Filmmaker Chris McQuarrie, who has directed all the Mission: Impossible films since 2015’s “Rogue Nation,” came close to casting Hayley Atwell over a decade ago.

“Hayley is someone we’ve been discussing and considering for quite some time, even as far back as ‘Jack Reacher’,” McQuarrie reveals, referring to the 2012 action-thriller starring Cruise, which McQuarrie directed. “She auditioned for us for ‘Jack Reacher’ and we were interested in her for ‘Rogue Nation’ as well. It took us a while to find the perfect character and opportunity to showcase Hayley’s strengths.”

In the years following her audition for “Jack Reacher,” Hayley Atwell gained recognition among MCU fans for her portrayal of Peggy Carter in multiple films and the TV series “Agent Carter.” Most recently, she portrayed an alternate universe version of Peggy in last year’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Unfortunately, the character met her demise at the hands of Elizabeth Olsen‘s Scarlet Witch, which disappointed Hayley Atwell.

Hayley Atwell
Hayley Atwell

“It was exciting to see her in that costume, seemingly taking on a more prominent role,” Atwell comments. “However, it was a rather disappointing moment for her to proclaim, ‘I could do this all day,’ only to be abruptly killed by a frisbee. I don’t believe that setup delivered the satisfying outcome I would have preferred for her character.”

Despite the challenging and frustrating nature of the production, Atwell expresses her joy when discussing her experience shooting “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.” The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a six-month delay before filming could commence. Additionally, Cruise and McQuarrie had to pause the production multiple times, further prolonging the already extensive shooting schedule. McQuarrie reveals that Hayley Atwell might have been involved in the film for over 100 days before filming her first dialogue scene.

During those hundred days, what was Atwell doing? “A lot of fighting, performing stunts, running through the streets of Venice, and working in Rome,” she explains. “The major dialogue scenes were saved for later, once we had established the character’s physicality through the larger set pieces. Then we focused on filling in those moments with actual storytelling. We worked on that aspect afterward.”

A significant part of the work in Rome, as mentioned by Atwell, involved shooting a car chase scene where Grace and Ethan find themselves handcuffed together in a Fiat 500. In the final film, Hunt promptly crashes the car after they get in, although Atwell reveals that it wasn’t initially planned.

“We affectionately called the car Trixie because she had a mind of her own,” the actress shares. “It wasn’t intended for Trixie to crash right after we started driving, but it happened accidentally, and it ended up in the film. It’s a fantastic comedic moment. I mean, how delightful is it to see Ethan Hunt caught off guard and undermined by a small yellow cupcake car?”

Despite intense moments and Tom Cruise’s reputation as a daredevil, Atwell emphasizes that her co-star was consistently focused on her safety on set, and she genuinely enjoyed her experience.

“He wants to ensure that everyone he’s working with in those high-risk environments, both literally and figuratively, is not only capable but also safe and genuinely enjoying themselves,” she explains. “Regarding the training, he mentioned that when you find a style that you genuinely enjoy, you’ll be able to progress further because you derive physical enjoyment from it.”

Does Hayley Atwell believe that Cruise, who is now 61 years old, will continue making these movies until he’s, let’s say, 150? “Oh, I have no doubt about it,” the actress responds. “He absolutely loves it. He’s an extrovert, and he draws energy from being around people and making movies. His entire life is dedicated to this.”

Cruise is set to return for at least one more adventure as Ethan Hunt in “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part Two,” scheduled for release next June. McQuarrie and the cast had already filmed a significant portion of the movie before taking a break for the promotional tour of Part One. However, Atwell explains that she is unable to provide any hints about the second half of the story.

“I can’t because I don’t know what happens,” she admits. “A lot of what we filmed for the seventh installment didn’t follow a set script. We would discover things in the moment and then determine what the scene required in terms of plot, exposition, and character dynamics. That’s their process, a unique one that clearly works for Tom and McQ based on their successful track record. What’s exciting for me as an actor is that everything is open to possibilities in terms of what happens next.”

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